By John-Henry Westen
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, September 12, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - During the opening day of the Catholic Leadership Conference yesterday, Baker Oregon Bishop Robert Vasa clarified the teaching of the US Bishops Conference regarding voting in favor of pro-abortion politicians. The question of whether Catholics may remain in good standing with the Church while voting for pro-abortion politicians was raised.
Bishop Vasa responded referencing the document of the United States Catholic Conference titled "Faithful Citizenship", noting a pro-abortion stance disqualifies candidates from consideration by faithful Catholics.
LifeSiteNews.com spoke with Bishop Vasa after the session. Describing the deliberation among US bishops over the "Faithful Citizenship" document, he said: "When we were working on the document ‘Faithful Citizenship’, and the issue of whether or not a person’s adamant pro-abortion position was a disqualifying condition, the general sense was ‘yes that is a disqualifying condition’."
However, during the discussions mention was made of the document by Pope Benedict just prior his elevation to the pontificate which noted that Catholics may in good conscience vote for a politician who supports abortion in the presence of "proportionate reasons."
Bishop Vasa explained the notion of proportionate reasons, saying, "The conditions under which an individual may be able to vote for a pro-abortion candidate would apply only if all the candidates are equally pro-abortion."
He added: "And then you begin to screen for the other issues and make a conscientious decision to vote for this pro-abortion candidate because his positions on these other issues are more in keeping with good Catholic values." In that case, he said, "It doesn’t mean that you in any way support or endorse a pro-abortion position but you take a look in that context at the lesser of two evils."
Speaking of politicians with a pro-abortion stand he said, "When we have someone who has that stand on a disqualifying issue, then the other issues, in many ways, do not matter because they are already wrong on that absolutely fundamental issue."
Only when taken to a level of insanity could a ‘pro-war’ candidate be considered on par with a pro-abortion candidate in the Bishop’s view. "If we had a candidate in favor of a war in Iraq in which we decimate the entire population and we kill as many civilians to impose as much terror on everybody as possible to make sure . . . If that was in opposition to a pro-abortion person then I’d have a real conflict of conscience because you’d have a direct and intentional killing of innocent persons on one hand and the direct and intentional killing of persons on the other hand, said the Baker Bishop.
"But we don’t have that issue with capital punishment, we don’t have that issue with the war in Iraq we don’t have that issue with the present Administration," he added.
Bishop Vasa explained that as a man from the Midwest, the analogy of a combine worked well to describe how a sifting of candidates could be undertaken. He described a combine as having a series of sieves, the first of which eliminates the largest and most obvious refuse. In the analogy the first screen would eliminate pro-abortion candidates, "to weed out the greatest evil," he said.
He concluded saying, "Abortion needs to be in our country a defining issue and we ought not be afraid to make it a defining issue because when we do that we will have an end of abortion in this country."